Victoria Alipi stood behind the sundae and shakes counter inside the Annandale Fuddruckers on Sunday afternoon and solemnly embraced her coworkers.
Alipi has worked for Fuddruckers for the last 27 years and reluctantly said goodbye to the people she came to know as a second family for more than two decades.
“I love it here," said Alipi. "The management is great and they always make sure everyone’s happy. My coworkers are nice. I will miss them."
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Fuddruckers got its start in Annandale in 1985 and on Sunday, the Annandale Fuddruckers closed its doors to the community.
Back in March, it was announced that a Walgreens would replace the restaurant known for its burgers as much as its community fundraisers.
“[I’ll miss] the community. It’s a very family-oriented atmosphere here,” said Manager John Hannah, a manager at the Annandale Fuddruckers. Through the years, Hannah said he has come to know a few residents and will miss seeing them regularly.
Annandale resident Richard, who declined to give his last name, echoed a similar sentiment about the Fuddruckers employees as he dined with his family for one last Fuddruckers meal.
“I’ll miss her,” Richard said, referring to Catita, the woman who makes the shakes and serves the desserts. Richard and his family have been coming to Fuddruckers for 15 years.
Residents trickled in throughout Sunday morning and afternoon. While employees hugged and shared smiles and jokes in between their work, patrons talked quietly in groups, some reminiscing, others looking more contemplative. The noise level gradually increased from chatter and familiar kitchen sounds and shouts for pick up in the morning to loud conversations and laughter and squeals from children in the afternoon as the line extended out the door.
The signage outside the restaurant did not offer parting words of farewell, but some patrons shouted “Bye Fuddruckers!” as they exited.
Many residents said they often came to Fuddruckers with family and friends and will miss that as part of their routine. Near the back of the restaurant, seniors from the Annandale High School Ultimate Frisbee team convened for one final team meal at Fuddruckers.
“There are few restaurants in Annandale that I enjoy going to and now we’re losing Fudds to a Walgreens? It’s a better community with Fuddruckers,” said Annandale High School senior Adam Huenmann.
Others expressed similar discontent with Walgreens' impending arrival.
“This place needs a Walgreens like we need a hole in the head,” said one Annandale resident who declined to give her name. “It’s a great loss for the community. I wish [the owner] had us vote before they made the decision.”
“This restaurant is a real gathering place for the community. And that’s not what Walgreens will be for us. It’ll be just another drug store,” said Lori, who also declined to give her last name.
Hannah said employees who chose to stay and relocate are being shifted to other Fuddruckers locations where room is available. Others, like Catita, will end their time with Fuddruckers.
“I’ve been here a long time. It’s a big part of my life and I will miss it a lot,” she said.
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